76 year-old, Caucasian, gay man Bob Frew at his home in Orlando. Bob was widowed in January 2019 when he lost his partner of 30 years. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 19 March 2019

Bob Frew /

“Mine is a story of mixed acceptance. It didn’t start out very well, at age of 76, I can look back and declare “it was good”.

When I was 16 my mother, in true fashion of the 1950’s, declared to me that if any of her children was queer, she would kill them rather than let them grow that way. Since I had already experimented and enjoyed teenage sexual excursions with other boys, I knew she was talking to me and that was enough to put me in the closet. Fortunately, I met a lovely young girl, we fell in love, married young (me 22 she 18), learned to live together for six years and then had two wonderful children. During those years I was so involved with the task of making a living, putting food on the table and generally providing for my family, that I did not even consider my sexuality, It was also not a major consideration in our marriage.

At age 40 I realized I enjoyed looking at men more than women and also enjoyed being in their company. But it made me feel terrible inside and I ended up seeing a psychiatrist for five years trying to ‘get better’. Finally, I gave up and went to a gay bar for the first time when I was 46. It was all I hoped for and all that I never had imagined. I knew this was my community.

I met my partner that same year. We were both married and had much in common. We were partners for 30 years, After about 9 months of seeing each other, I felt that I had to come out to my family. While it was not an easy time, most of my family accepted the situation. My wife said she would fight another woman for me but did not know how to compete with another man. So it was a fairly smooth transition to living with my partner. We all became one big crazy family and grandchildren from both families became our grandchildren without regard to ‘who belong to who’.

I had no problem with either of the two employers I had after coming out. Nor did I experience any discrimination in any housing arrangements that we had. We were fortunate to travel extensively In our 60’s and 70’s. While there were some fellow travelers who didn’t associate with us, there were also those whom we choice not to associate with. I don’t know if it was a gay/straight thing or just personalities that didn’t blend well. In any case, it never hampered our travels and we were truly blessed.

I lost my partner on January 26, 2019. It was a peaceful passing and I had the honor to share his last minutes with him. I will miss him. I am afraid sometimes. I have never lived by myself. I am concerned that, if I need to seek assisted living, my lifestyle may severely limit my choices that I have in finding suitable accommodation. Money seems to buy more choices, but I live on social security – too much assistance but too little to be comfortable. So I go forward slowly and wonder what my future will be.

Bob Frew”

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